Recent occurrences in the Middle East resulted a “divisive” architecture event this past Thursday at Ohio State University.
According to the OSU National Association of Minority Landscape Architects’ Abdul-Azeez Ahmad, the December 7 “Justice Centered Design” confab came about due to “the illegal Israeli occupation and everything happening in Palestine.”
The event featured a screening of Israeli architect Eyal Weizman’s film “The Architecture of Violence” along with a panel discussion, The Lantern reports.
The film “takes [the viewer] through the eyes of hostile architecture that was designed by the Israeli occupation to subjugate and to keep the Palestinians living in an apartheid state,” Ahmad said.
In a 2014 Al Jazeera article Weizman described the “architecture and the built environment” near and around the West Bank as a “kind of slow violence.”
“The occupation is an environment that was conceived to strangulate Palestinian communities, villages and towns, to create an environment that would be unliveable [sic] for the people there,” Weizman said.
He added it’s a “landscape where everything, from walls and roads, terraces and sewage, to settlements and surveillance are designed to ensure the separation of the two peoples, while simultaneously maintaining control.”
Ahmad said the OSU event “goes deeper” than just what’s going on in Israel and Gaza — it’s also about “intersectionality and how that affects how walls are built in America as well.”
“It is important to put an emphasis on a more equitable world,” Ahmad said. “I hope the goal for many designers in architecture and landscape architecture is to take the people who have been ignored throughout history, whether it’s people with physical disabilities, different races or ethnicities, into account.”
The Lantern notes the event followed an unspecified “recent incident” at Knowlton Hall (home of the architecture school) at which Israel-Hamas war-related graffiti was removed from an free-expression stairwell.
The episode was controversial enough that the Knowlton Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Committee said it would be looking into “alternative ways to ensure students […] have expressive outlets at their disposal.”